Climate Bright Spot: India’s Growing Solar Market

Solar installation in India.
Credit: NDTV

With the Paris Agreement now in force, world leaders signaled overwhelming support for strong action, as the climate talks come to a close in Morocco. Even though the talks were overshadowed by Donald Trump’s election campaign claims to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, countries emphasized their resolve to climate action to meet domestic needs—such as India’s target to achieve 100 gigawatts of installed solar energy by 2022.

“Countries have strongly supported the Agreement because they realize their own national interest is best secured by pursuing the common good. Now we have to translate words into effective policies and actions. This is critical to protect our planet, safeguard the most vulnerable and drive shared prosperity.”

Ban Ki-Moon in Morocco

International Solar Alliance

Recognizing the potential of solar energy to combat climate change and air pollution, over 20 countries including Brazil and France took action to work cooperatively in advancing solar energy under the International Solar Alliance. Announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Francois Hollande during the Paris talks last December, the ISA aims to bring “sun rich” countries together. Hosted by Environment Minister Anil Dave, the ISA is a platform to improve technology and policy to make solar energy more cost competitive with fossil fuels in developing markets.

India’s Climate Pledge

India announced its pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions intensity by 33 to 35 percent relative to 2005 levels by 2030. India’s climate pledge is a strong target and places clean energy at the center of its plan for economic growth. India has played a key role in the adoption of an amendment under the Montreal Protocol to cut emission of the greenhouse gasses known as hydrofluorocarbons.

NRDC’s new fact sheet on India Climate Actions highlights key programs that India is taking to combat climate change.

India’s Solar Mission

Renewable energy is the foundation of India’s emissions reduction strategy. India has expanded the National Solar Mission and set a target of 100 gigawatts (GW) of installed solar energy capacity by 2022. That is five times the earlier 20 GW target. India’s solar industry is expanding rapidly. Total installed capacity exceeds 8 GW—a more than 500-fold increase from 2010.

Given its large potential and the strong policy and financial support to maximize it, solar power expansion is a high priority for the Indian government. India’s renewable energy investment opportunity is estimated at $600 billion by 2040, according to recent analysis from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Expanding solar energy also brings new jobs and economic growth. Analysis from NRDC and our partner shows that achieving the 100GW target creates as many as 1 million full time jobs by 2022 in India, mostly in construction and operations.  

Solar prices in India are dropping at a rapid clip. Just this month, the Bhadla Solar Park in Rajasthan set a new record-low price in the latest tender offered by the Solar Energy Corporation of India. The Bhadla Solar Park adds 750 MW of solar energy for just INR 3.93/kWh ($0.0590/kWh) as compared to the earlier benchmark price of INR 4.43/kWh ($0.0665/kWh). The Indian government is also exploring innovative mechanisms, such as green banks, to scale clean energy. Green banks are specialized institutions that leverage limited public funding to attract private capital for clean energy deployment. IREDA, India’s leading public financial institution, is set to become India’s first green bank.

The shift to a low carbon future with solar and wind energy creates jobs and drives economic growth - resulting in greater emissions reductions. The Paris Agreement, and more importantly, the domestic action it supports, is also critical to protecting our health, our communities and our planet from the ravages of climate change. And as my colleagues working on clean energy in China, Barbara Finamore and Alvin Lin explain, Donald Trump “is wrong to believe that withdrawing from the Paris Agreement will make America great again.”

(Sameer Kwatra contributed to this post.)

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